A doctor in San Jose shares about the high toll the corona virus war is taking on her and her colleagues. And I’m talking to a reporter who has spent a decade covering Amazon about what workers are facing. Yes, #stayingathome is the easy part.
Its Arlene Martínez with news for Wednesday.
But first, a train engineer drove a speed locomotive from the tracks because he was suspicious of the presence of a marine hospital ship docked in the Port of Los Angeles. The vessel, BTW, is the 1,000-bed USNS Mercy, to help deliver desperate medical assistance to the state.
In California gives you stories and information from newsrooms across the United States TODAY Network and beyond to keep you safe and informed. Subscribe today for free delivery directly to your inbox.
Housing, real estate and protection
It is the first of the month and you do not have the money to pay the rent. Remember that you cannot be rejected for not paying the rent for coronavirus-related reasons, but you must let the landlord know in writing within seven days of your due date the reason it will be late.
It is too early to say about San Francisco’s extortionate rents will release because of the corona virus the same way they did in the dotcom bust bust. But if you’ve ever wanted to move there, keep it on your radar.
Buy, sell or wait – what is the best thing you can do during a pandemic?
The San Diego Convention Center opened Wednesday as a homeless shelter. Buses were planned to take in 430 people.
So we shop (and hoard)
Costco allows only two people to enter per membership card beginning on Friday.
Speaking of Costco, it is one of several retailers who limit the return on certain items or close them completely.
Home Depot orders its stores to stop selling N95 masks, so that they can be redirected to hospitals, healthcare professionals and other first responders.
So that was who had all the toilet paper: Beverly Hills, I expect more from you.
A doctor’s dispatch from San Jose
An internal medicine doctor in San Jose who is a member of her hospital’s COVID-19 team writes about the tolls that coronavirus takes on colleagues. They cannot sleep, they are filled with doom, they feel helpless, says Dr. Nivedita Lakhera.
Lakhera has felt grief and trauma. As a child in New Dehli, she witnessed a violent riot after the prime minister was murdered; later she survived a stroke, a painful divorce and miscarriage.
But, Lakhera writes, “none of it has shaken me as much as the US’s erroneous response to coronaviruses that burden ICUs across the country. None of these things have hurt me as deeply as the resulting trauma for healthcare professionals trying to deal with fallout beyond their control. “
Water required by everyone, EPA regulations, boundary life
California’s Klamath River has come to symbolize a greater struggle over the valuable water resources of the American West, and who has the greatest demand on them: tribes, farmers, homeowners, farmers, or conservationists.
How did the feds decide they had less fuel efficient vehicles? would make new rides more affordable and thus save thousands of lives? A judge states that EPA must disclose the model that led to new standards that allow car manufacturers to increase fuel efficiency by 1.5% by the model year 2026. It had previously been 5%.
California de facto supports the closure of the US-Mexico bordereven if it keeps them apart from loved ones.
It’s the Census Day! And a book for everyone from birth to high school
April 1 is the Census Day, which means that where you and others in your household live just this day is where you will be counted in the census for 2020. Go ahead and fill out the form.
The state loses $ 1,000 a year for every California that doesn’t count, according to my conversation last week with one of the state’s census ambassadors.
50 book proposalsfor newborn through high school students.
Works Amazon’s front lines
Spencer Soper is a Seattle-based technology reporter for Bloomberg News. He has covered Amazon for almost a decade, first in Allentown, Pennsylvania and then from San Francisco.
Soper and I, who worked together at The Morning Call in Allentown, talked via email about all the latest happenings in one of the world’s largest companies in a time of coronavirus.
Q: You wrote a couple of weeks ago that some Amazon workers on California’s central coast got a single drought to clean their van before a shift. I couldn’t help but wonder when I read your story – how does a mammoth company that seems to have better access to things like wet wipes than the rest of us don’t do enough for frontline workers?
A: The coronavirus outbreak blinded the world. Amazon is not alone in crawling to get the right supplies and equipment. Hospitals and emergency staff are, too, which is understandable given the sudden increase in demand. The problem for an Amazon warehouse worker or delivery manager is: What do you do when you don’t feel confident doing your job? That issue is sinking and boiling over into worker demonstrations around the world right now, and the fear is not limited to Amazon employees.
Q: How is Amazon taking care of its workers during this pandemic? At least some employees do not think well enough given the strikes and walkouts that happened this week.
A: Amazon says it follows social distance guidelines and increased cleaning at its facilities. Workers are understandably nervous when they learn about colleagues who have tested positive for the virus, and some of them would like to see Amazon go further when it comes to closing warehouses for cleaning and letting workers stay home with wages to reduce their own exposure. No matter what precautions Amazon has taken, panic among the workforce is spreading along with the outbreak.
Q: Was the company ready for a situation like this?
A: I don’t know that any company was fully prepared for a situation like this. Some of the benefits that Amazon has are that it is used to hiring large numbers of temporary staff during peak season, so it has a hiring process in place to help it meet demand. But even that created some problems with applicants saying that Amazon disregards social distance guidelines at events. Amazon also has a business model that helps customers get what they need for security in their homes and prevents them from having to navigate stores with other customers, so the pandemic actually highlights how valuable the service is to customers.
Q: There is a lot that we don’t know about COVID-19, but what seems clear is how easily it can be spread, certainly between people, but also that it can linger in places. Cleaned warehouse? How are boxes handled?
S: It’s such a huge supply chain. Amazon says it has increased the cleanliness of its facilities and many workers remain at the same station for their shifts. But there are still people who touch the same object as they move through the system. This is a particular problem we heard from delivery drivers. They load their vehicles without knowing where the packages came from or who last touched them. Same problem for a customer who takes a package off the bow.
Q: You’ve been covering Amazon for a long time and doing one of the first things exposure to working conditions during the Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Do you have any sense of whether the conditions for workers have changed in general?
Amazon installed air conditioning in its warehouse several years ago after news reports of people suffering from the heat, so it was a big improvement. It has also invested heavily in automation, which means fewer people push carts back and forth throughout the day in scattered warehouses because robots do much of it now. Amazon has also created new types of work. Amazon Flex is a program where independent contractors can deliver Amazon packages in their own vehicles, similar to Uber but for packages. And it created a network of delivery partners dedicated to branded Amazon deliveries, which many of your readers have probably seen in their neighborhoods.
Q: In the Frontline documentary “Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos,” you mentioned that the company’s founder Jeff Bezos was to be used as a symbol of inequality and of capitalism that went wrong, essentially. What do you make of that assessment?
If you’re a politician running on a platform to address the growing wealth gap between haves and have-nots, Jeff Bezos and Amazon are irresistible examples. He is the world’s richest man and his company has received state support to expand. Then, Amazon had cities and states that offer great incentives to land its corporate expansion that ended up in Virginia (Editor’s note: The state agreed to pay up to $ 800 million in incentives). None of these things are unique to Amazon. But Amazon, through its name recognition and the CEO’s wealth, is the most prominent target for the foreseeable future.
Q: Something I didn’t ask for?
Q: How can your readers who are interested in Amazon follow my work? Glad you asked. Follow me on Twitter @spencersoper and I also publish a lot of stories on LinkedIn. They are all available at Bloomberg.com.
In California, there is a summary of news from across the United States TODAY Network newsroom. Also contributing: Associated Press, High Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Curbed S.F.